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Rosewater and candied flowers

For Jo who asked about rosewater and orange blossom water:  I buy
rosewater at my local Indian foods grocer.  I haven't seen orange blossom
water there, but I haven't looked specifically.  

I recently used the rosewater to dissolve gum arabic to use in candying
pansies for our wedding cake.  It smells lovely.

For those of you who might be interested, here's the vegan method for
candying flowers and mint leaves.  Notice that it takes several days from
start to finish (but only a little bit of YOUR time/attention).

CRYSTALLIZED FLOWERS (from _Cake Decorating_ by Judy Kelsey, with
modifications suggested by Martha Stewart, who uses egg whites to do this)

25 g/ 1 oz gum arabic crystals (or powder)
60 ml/4 tbsp rosewater
superfine sugar (castor sugar)
fresh edible (unsprayed) flowers** or leaves
wax or silicone paper
small paintbrush
small screwtop jar

1) Place the gum arabic and the rosewater in a screwtop jar and leave for
two or three days for the gum arabic to dissolve.  When the crystals have
dissolved, the mixture will look like thin honey (viscous and pale gold).

2)  Prepare a shallow bowl filled with superfine sugar (which is much
finer than regular granulated sugar and looks prettier on the flowers).

3)  Cover a tray with waxed paper or silicone paper.

4)  Hold a flower (or leaf) by its stem and very carefully paint it with
the gum arabic mixture.  Don't coat it too heavily.  Paint both sides.

5)  Hold the wet flower over the bowl of sugar and (using a teaspoon)
sprinkle it evenly with sugar.  Turn it over and do the back side, too.

6)  Shake off the excess sugar (tap your hand on the side of the bowl) and
then place the coated flower on the wax- or silicone-paper-covered tray.

7)  Leave to dry for 3-4 days.  I leave mine in my gas oven.  With the
pilot light's warmth, they are usually ready in a couple of days.  BE
CAREFUL if you do this.  I foolishly pre-heated my oven without thinking
and blackened a batch of lovely pansies and johnny-jump-ups.  :-(  Now I
tape a sign on the oven control to remind me that I have "FLOWERS IN

8)  After the flowers or leaves are dry, clip off their stems and place
them in an airtight container.  I use a shallow Rubbermaid container and
put layers of waxed paper in between the layers of flowers. 

9) Stored away from light and heat, these are supposed to stay usable and
retain their color for a year.  I have only kept them for a couple of
months, so I can't say from experience.  They are VERY FRAGILE, however,
so be careful not to drop them or the container they are stored in.

These look absolutely wonderful on a frosted cake, but they can be served
as little (fat-free) treats on their own with a nice cup of tea or coffee. 
Depending on what type of flower you use, they can either taste like a
very exotic perfume, or like  little sugar candies.  Mint leaves are
fantastic this way!! 

**Some edible flowers suitable for candying include pansies,
johnny-jump-ups (viola tricolor), violets, primroses, and dianthus.  Many
people candy rose petals, too, but I haven't had any luck with these
looking good.  

Other edible flowers for other purposes (salads, etc) are daylilles
(buds, flowers, and tubers), marigold (calendula officinalis only!),
nasturiums, sunflowers, and zucchini flowers.

Enjoy!  Lisa

Lisa T. Bennett (lbennett@xxxxxxxxxxx)
Dept. of Instructional Technology, University of Georgia
Founder and Co-chair, Vegetarian Society of UGA